Wednesday, October 6, 2010

“Quite possibly the most over-rated game ever made…”

Something’s been bothering me for a long, long time. I’ve had to keep quiet about it at the risk of persecution and belittlement, telling only those closest to me in hushed whispers. But after 13 years, it’s time to break the silence. I don’t care what anyone says anymore; the truth is I hate Final Fantasy VII.

Soo... there's no espers? What about Matoya the witch?

By saying “Final Fantasy VII” and “hate” in the same sentence, a group of otherwise normal people have caught the scent of this blog post and are ready to harvest my vial organs with their oversized swords and spiky cactus hair. But before anyone hunts me down and stuffs materia down my throat until I choke (and simultaneously learn fire magic!), there’s something I want to make clear: I played Final Fantasy VII in its entirety when it first came out in 1997 and in smaller doses over the last 13 years. I’ve had a long time to think about it, and I’m here to make valid points, not to start flame wars. Also, I didn’t like Halo, Metroid Prime or MOTHER 3. Let the flame wars begin!

"I forgot who I am."
Some may exclaim, “Blasphemy! Don’t you know that our Lord and Savior Final Fantasy VII redefined the world of RPGs with its high quality windings and superior flibildigitz?!”

I fully acknowledge what Final Fantasy VII did in the way of mainstreaming the role playing genre in America, but by doing so, it doomed plenty of RPGs for the next five years to an angsty teenage cast and a conflicted, whiny main character. There were also plenty of FFVII copycats flooding the market at the time, bringing little to the genre that wasn’t there before: Consider Crave Entertainment’s Shadow Madness, a 1999 PlayStation 1 offering which was basically Final Fantasy VII starring a pirate named Stinger and a wooden robot named Harv-5. Though, to be sure, Harv-5 was freaking awesome and used to warn everyone that “There will be death.” He also had a super cool straw hat.

Wooden robot. Straw hat. THIS RULES

Uh, sorry, I’m getting off track.

In the same vein, Final Fantasy VII’s eco-emo storyline simultaneously raised and lowered the bar for console RPGs and video games in general. On the plus side, after the success of FFVII, many developers saw the need to make their game worlds more broad and their narratives more epic. On the negative side, Final Fantasy VII’s storyline is so broad and epic that it isn’t very cohesive. First you’re battling the twisted Shinra organization to save the planet, then you’re out to destroy Sephiroth because he’s a jerk or something, and then the whole third disc is devoted solely to kicking Sephiroth’s butt to save the planet, with Shinra all but forgotten. Also Square resorted to giving their main character mega-cliché amnesia, which hurt my head so much that I wished I could forget that part of the game. Amnesia? Really Square? Seriously?

"I'm Popeye the Sailor Man..."
 Okay, so storylines are subjective. If you liked Final Fantasy VII’s tale, there’s not much I can say in response. What I can point out are the triangle graphics. Everyone looks like they have Popeye arms. Yeah, it was 1997. No, I couldn’t stand it then, and I still can’t stand it now. The beautifully-rendered backgrounds are in stark contrast to the character appendages that appear to be more suited to eating spinach than fighting that effeminate swordsman, Alucard. Err, Sephiroth. What would have helped is if all the characters were made of wood; then they could have been round; also, awesome straw hats would have helped conceal some popup.

My biggest problem revolves around Final Fantasy VII’s most daring move. Let me put it to you like this: You know what’s really great? Leveling the crap out of one of your characters only to have her taken away for ever and ever. When Aeris died, I didn’t get sad because I loved her so much etc., instead I sat there in calm disbelief as I watched hours of playtime get a sword through her back. “I guess she’s dead,” I mumbled, hoping her equipment had been moved to the main inventory so that I might sell it to recoup some of my losses. (But speaking of lost time, I guess it turned out okay though, because I was able to play Ducktails on Gameboy whenever used a summon materia.) Too bad no one was carrying any Revive materia or Phoenix Downs, or they could have brought her back to life.

You know, if Aeris’ body had been made of wood, and she had been wearing a keen straw hat, she could have got up, dusted herself off and said, “That all you got? Where’s the next longhaired swordsman at? I’ll punch him right in face.”

I was once called a “whiny [phallus]” because I wrote a negative review for a popular cult game. By that token, every reviewer who dislikes any aspect of any game is whiny. Then I guess I’m whiny, because Final Fantasy VII was a huge disappointment. I applaud Crave Entertainment for having the courage to challenge the RPG behemoth Square and remake FFVII with all wooden robots and straw hats it was missing the first time around. I implore everyone to play the far superior FFVII remake, Shadow Madness. Sure, Crave broke more than they fixed, but hey, it’s all worth it for Harv-5.

Or, you know, you could just play FFVII while wearing a straw hat.

I love this game!


  1. Monkey D. Luffy hat! Don't damage that straw hat. One Piece + FFVII = Something that might sell?

  2. "...something that might fail?"


  3. I'm a big Final Fantasy fan, but I have never made it all the way through FFVII. Everytime I try, it just does not suck me in enough to not get sidetracked. So, I have to say that I agree. Besides, my favorite is FFIV, which was FFII in the US on SNES. I don't know why, but I just couldn't set it down.

  4. Final Fantasy and every other example of linear storytelling basically crippled RPG's for a decade by telling gullible console owners that watching a movie was role-playing, and characters spending most of their time standing still ten feet from one another was combat. The early FF's can be somewhat excused by the technology of the time, but by the time of VII Western studios were producing games that involved the player making real choices that influenced the outcome of the game (like getting his OWN damn NPC's killed, or not killed). They just happened to mostly be doing it for PC.

  5. But Connor, I like being led around by the nose in console RPGs. I find it highly entertaining, though I wouldn't consider myself "gullible" - only when candy and puppies are involved. However, I agree with you that it's kind of "RPG lite" in that respect. I also agree that cutscene after cutscene does not a good game make.

  6. Now I request a review of Shadow Madness, in all its glory. Unless you already covered everything.

  7. I could review it... you ever play it? It's bastically FFVII, but Ted Woosly (sp?) had something to do with it. You know, the guy who translated FF3/6 on the SNES.